We spoke on last week’s Food Friday about shellfish, so I thought we’d continue the theme with this week’s Food Friday — shrimp. Or as my Louisiana college roommate would say, “shrump.” I always think of shrimp as a light, but elegant addition that pairs well with just about anything — pasta, tacos, salad. It can be served as an appetizer, or star as the main dish. It’s perfect for this time of year where, if you’re like me, you’ve had your fill of rich, heavy foods such as hams and turkeys.
And living near Mayport for the last few years, I’ve added several shrimp recipes to my repertoire. In fact, Mr. SIT and I are having this Shrimp Scampi Pasta dish tonight for dinner. So, let’s learn a little about this versatile little seafood.
- If you’re purchasing raw, shelled shrimp, choose shrimp that are firm, moist, and translucent. Avoid any with black spots. You want your shrimp to smell of the sea, not chemicals, such as ammonia or iodine.
- Store them in a cold refrigerator, after rinsing well under running water. You can keep them for a couple days, but if you’re not planning to use immediately, freeze in water for up to 3 months.
- Peel and devein before cooking, as it’s easier when they’re raw, especially in larger sizes.
- A shrimp cooked in its shell is more flavorful, but if you plan on peeling after cooking, snip the shell lengthwise before cooking along the back to make it easier.
- To shell, start at the large end and peel away the shell. It’s your choice whether to leave the tail on or not. (I suggest if you’re frying or sauteing, leave the tail on.)
- To devein shrimp, use a sharp knife to cut a slit down the middle of the outside curve. Then pull out the vein and rinse again under cold water. (Especially in larger shrimp, you should devein, as it can give a gritty texture. The “vein” is actually the digestive tract, as shrimp have an open circulatory system.)
- Save your shells to cook with a little butter and oil. Then strain the shells and use as a flavoring for pasta or other seafood dishes. You can add depth to this broth by adding celery, onion, or clam juice as well and then boiling in your soups. This will keep well in the freezer for up to 6 months.
- Cook your shrimp for a brief time, as it can become rubbery — just until the flesh becomes opaque and the shrimp begin to curl. If you’ve cooked them with the shells on, they should turn pink.
- For fried shrimp, lightly batter with cornstarch or flour, season with salt, pepper, or whatever spices you wish, and dip in an egg white. Fry until golden.
- To grill shrimp, thread onto a skewer tail first, and then bend around to spear the front section.
- Shrimp is high in calcium and protein.